Red Prophet #2 by Roland Bernard Brown
(2006-06-14) Dabel Brothers
Red Prophet #2: Tales of Alvin Maker
For those who missed the review of Issue #1 please follow this link: Red Prophet #1
This review contains some small spoilers.
What began as a promising first issue has been followed up by a very enjoyable, if again too brief second issue. Red Prophet #2 begins to explain the background to Lolla-Wossiky and why, of all the ‘likkered Reds’, his story is important. In this second issue we learn why he is so dependent on whiskey and what the real reason behind his drinking is. As was the case with the first issue, issue two continues in the style that anyone familiar with Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series has become accustomed to. Roland Bernard Brown and Renato Arlem have settled quickly into the title with few adjustments required, which makes the transition between issues smooth and familiar.
Centring on Lolla-Wossiky’s journey North to find his dream beast and escape his reliance on the whiskey of Governor Harrison, Red Prophet #2 uses Lolla-Wossiky to expand the reader’s understanding of the world and finally bring us within touching distance of Alvin. The journey itself is a beautifully drawn mixture of the peaceful green and disturbing black, balancing the problems Lolla-Wossiky suffers with the truth of his heritage. Wossiky’s missing eye is used intelligently as the main story-telling tool, seeing things in a different way and making the reader wonder whether he is a little crazy after all. Unfortunately the pacing of Red Prophet #2 has to be brought into question. Understandably some amount of time must be spent on the tale of Lolla-Wossiky, as it is central to the tale as a whole, however given the monthly release of the title, it’s lack of size and the limited length of it’s run, it seems too much of a luxury to go two issues without meeting the titular character. This second issue also feels like a setting of the stage, which, although unavoidable to a degree, is still disappointing because we’re not into the meat of the story yet.
Not that there are many complaints about the quality of the issue itself. Everything is well drawn, if somewhat simple due to the setting, and neatly arranged – this second issue doesn’t suffer quite so much from the narrative-heavy problems that issue one did. The colouring stands out in this second issue and sits well with the drawing, the light in the North constantly drawing the eye toward and beyond each panel, waiting for Lolla-Wossiky to catch up and find the end. At times Arlem’s artwork slips, he gets carried away with adding too much detail to a panel that is awkward on the eye and makes the event seem too busy. His characters’ faces at a distance are also a little weak, lacking the detail so evident in his close-ups. These are, however, minor faults in another strong showing by an improving artist.
As with issue one, length is still a problem. I understand that the comic industry has, whether consciously or not, set a basic template for the number of pages any given title should have, but twenty two pages is barely enough to whet the appetite, especially given this isn’t a weekly title. I’d much rather see this style of title in a graphic novel where more time and space can be given to the creators and the storyline, and allowing the reader to experience the single, encapsulated story right the way through in one sitting.
To sum up, I am very much enjoying seeing (or not, so far) Alvin Maker and the world of Red Prophet taking shape, Roland Bernard Brown and Renato Arlem should be applauded for doing such a fine job of making believe that this is the way Alvin Maker has always been read. Unfortunately the format and cost do weigh against it in the balance, a guilty pleasure then but a pleasure nonetheless.
Owen Jones © 2006
More information about the Red Prophet series can be found here: http://www.dabelbrothers.com/rp.html